Mayor Gray Advances Rights of Transgender Community

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DC Mayor announces steps to protect LGBT community from discrimination in health care

Today, the District of Columbia advanced the rights of the city’s transgender community by prohibiting discrimination in health insurance based on gender identity and expression. Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking (DISB) is issuing a bulletin to District health insurance companies addressing the application of anti-discrimination provisions in the insurance code, including recognizing gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder, as a recognized medical condition.

Mayor Vincent Gray

Mayor Vincent C. Gray — Photo by Michael Gignac for Tagg Magazine

“Last March, the District began the process of removing exclusions in health insurance on the basis of gender identity or expression. Through the hard work of my Office of GLBT Affairs and a multi-agency working group lead by my Chief of Staff, Chris Murphy, we have today taken the necessary steps to completely eliminate these exclusions,” said Mayor Gray. “Today, the District takes a major step towards leveling the playing field for individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria. These residents should not have to pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses for medically necessary treatment when those without gender dysphoria do not. Today’s actions bring us closer to being One City that values and protects the health of all of our residents.”

This action follows DISB’s March 15, 2013 bulletin notifying health insurers to remove language that discriminated on the basis of gender identity and expression from their policies and permit those with gender dysphoria to obtain medically necessary benefits. Today’s action goes one step further in protecting this community’s health insurance rights by affirming that gender dysphoria is a recognized medical condition and thereby treatment, including gender reassignment surgeries, is a covered benefit.

“This action places the District at the forefront of advancing the rights of transgender individuals,” Mayor Gray said. “It also fully implements the District’s Human Rights Act by incorporating gender identity and expression as protected classes in the District’s health insurance laws.”

With these actions, individuals with gender dysphoria are entitled to receive any medically necessary benefits and services under individual and group health insurance policies covering medical and hospital expenses. In determining the medical necessity of services and benefits provided to individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria, insurance providers must refer to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care, known as WPATH, the recognized standard of medical care for transgender individuals requiring treatment for gender dysphoria. These benefits are not newly mandated, but rather clarify District law to assure that individuals diagnosed with gender dysphoria are afforded the same benefits under health insurance policies as individuals seeking medically necessary treatment for non-gender identity or expression-related conditions.

DCHR will ensure that insurers administering health insurance plans to DC Government employees cease denials, exclusions, or other limitations on coverage for medically necessary services, in accordance with the WPATH Standards of Care, including gender reassignment surgeries, if such items or services would be covered for other plan enrollees without regard for their gender identity or expression.

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